Just when you thought you’d heard it all, this government comes along with another scheme to make the blood boil. This time it plans to give the over weight and obses… wait for it…free shopping vouchers if they loose weight. That’s right, loose a few pounds and you can have some metro centre vouchers to spend at McDonalds. Together with a £75 million advertising campaign, Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, and Ed Balls, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, will try and reduce the nations expanding waistlines with free money.
No mention is made of reducing admission charges into leisure facilities, creating more school sports facilties, giving physical exercise more prominence in the national curriculum or banning junk food advertising instead of “reviewing” it.
Until the government accept the need for radical policies, this tinkering with the ground rules and squadering of public money will have no effect what so ever.
The £372 million Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives strategy includes:
— A £75 million marketing campaign to persuade parents to improve their children’s diet and encourage physical activity
— A code of practice to be agreed with the food and drink industry
— £30 million invested in “healthy towns” to encourage walking, cycling and other activities
— Increased funding over three years for personalised weight-loss programmes and competitions in workplaces and the community
— Cookery lessons compulsory in all secondary schools by 2011
— Ofcom to bring forward a review into junk-food advertising to children